After creating history for becoming one of the first three women to be inducted in the fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force in 2016, Avani Chaturvedi has now scripted history yet again. She has become the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly a fighter aircraft solo by flying a MiG-21 bison all by herself in Jamnanagar, Gujarat.
Talking about Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi’s accomplishment, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa told the Times of India:
“My heartiest congratulations to Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi for successfully clearing her first solo sortie on a MiG-21 ‘Bison’ fighter. The IAF has always taken a lead in providing an equal platform to women officers. It’s a red letter day for the country.”
Avani Chaturvedi had hit the headlines back in 2016 for being one of the first three women to be inducted into the fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force. Inducted in the same batch as hers were flying officers Mohana Singh and Bhawana Kanth. The three together got trained in a class along with 43 male fellows. Officer Singh and Kanth have also completed their training and will soon be taking turns in flying fighter plane solo.
This successful solo trip of Avani has put India on the map with countries in which women fly fighter jets, namely, Britain, Israel, The United States of America and Pakistan.
Avani Chaturvedi shattered the deep-rooted combat-exclusion policy for females in the Indian Armed Forces when she flew a 30-minute solo sortie in a MiG-21 on February 19. She was commissioned into the first batch of female fighter pilot in 2016, only a few months after the government decided to open the fighter stream to female pilots on experimental basis.
Born and brought up in a small town of Madhya Pradesh, she did her schooling in Deoland near Rewaa. She then pursued her graduation in BTech Computer Science from Banasthali University in Jaipur. She had a knack for violin, painting and chess but chose to join the college flying club. With astronaut Kalpana Chawla as her inspiration, Avani went on to achieve greater heights. After college, she started working for IBM and then qualified for the Indian Air Force Exam.
Avani is not the only one from her family who is into the Indian Armed Forces. Her brother and uncle are both in the Indian Army. And then it was her. After selection, she completed her training at Hyderabad Air Force Academy and got posted at Number 23 Squadron (Panthers). And since then, there has been no looking back for her!